Interstitial Lung Disease

If your life is affected by interstitial lung disease, turn to UC San Diego Health for the latest diagnosis and treatment approaches.

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a term that includes a variety of chronic lung disorders, such as pulmonary fibrosis. In ILD, the walls of the air sacs in the lungs may become inflamed, and the tissue (interstitium) that lines and supports the sacs can become increasingly thickened and scarred.

This scarring can cause the lung to become stiff and cause shortness of breath and interfere with lung function.

ILD can be a difficult disease to treat, sometimes progressing slowly, and in other patients, very quickly.

Causes can include:

  • Environmental factors such as exposure to asbestos or metal dust
  • Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs
  • Drug interactions or side effects
  • Radiation therapy
  • Connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosis and Treatment

ILD can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of many other medical conditions. In addition to doing a physical exam and taking your medical history, your doctor may prescribe these diagnostic procedures:

  • Chest X-rays
  • Pulmonary function measurement
  • CT scans
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage to remove cells from the lower respiratory tract
  • Bronchoscopy to obtain tissue samples

Treatment of ILD can include:

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